Annals of Russian Militarism
Seemingly with great pride, Pravda reports that Russia is second only to the United States in the dollar value of weapons its exports to the world, selling $8.7 billion compared to America's $16.9 billion. That's a pretty far distant second, to be sure, but Russians seem delighted to settle for silver medals (something similar happens during the Olympic games, for instance).
What Pravda fails to notice, however, is that the U.S. economy is twelve times larger than Russia's, while the U.S. sales of arms are only twice as large. This means that the sale of arms to foreign nations represents a six times larger share of the Russian economy than it does of the American economy.
In other words, Russia is dominating America in arms sales as a percent of GDP. In other other words, Russia is shockingly addicted to the sale of arms just as it's addicted to the sale of oil.
And it doesn't care who it sells to, or how many enemies it makes along the way. Euphemistically, Pravda admits that Russia's client list is far smaller and less diverse than America's, but it gives no details. Here's the truth: In a frenzied, short-sighted, neo-Soviet manner, Russia is funneling huge quantities of weapons to a tiny group of rogue nations who can't get them anywhere else (Burma, Iran, Venezuela, Syria) and are therefore willing to accept Russia's shoddy work product. These nations are among America's most mortal enemies yet, if America were to start delivering huge quantities of weapons to Georgia or Ukraine, for instance, Russia would scream to high heaven about America threatening Russian security. In fact, Russia isn't even willing to allow the U.S. to install purely defensive missile systems in Eastern Europe, even though Russia is installing exactly the same type of system in Iran (to protect nuclear technology Russia has also delivered to that crazed fundamentalist regime). And let's not forget the repeated buzzing of Western nations by Russian nuclear bomber flybys -- when no such threats are being made by the West against Russia.
Is it really in the long-term interests of the Russian people to pursue this policy? Of course not. Russia finds itself utterly alone in the world, faced with the inevitable annexation of territory by China in Siberia, yet it proceeds recklessly to antagonize the entire Western world by selling arms to its most hated foes. In doing so, Russia inevitably invites a second cold war, just like the one that totally destroyed the USSR. Inevitably, to wage such a war, Russia must divert resources from social services to military goals, and Russia's sick population can ill afford any such losses.
And let's remember, the people of Russia are not innocent bystanders in this process; they are as culpable as their leaders because they continue to favor those leaders with astronomically high approval ratings in polls and elections. There was a time when we might have let the people of Russia off the hook, attributing the barbaric acts of their government to the lunatics who ran that government, a dictatorship we thought the Russians could not control. But now, things have changed mightily. Now, we see the people of Russia exercising a free choice to continue harassing the West, provoking a conflict they are doomed to lose.
Russia's is a bully regime, and bullies inevitably resort to crude acts of criminal violence to get what they want, because they can't win civilized contests. If the Russian people don't wake up and stop this madness, we will soon be discussing the nation that replaced Russia, just as Russia replaced the USSR.
It might be a nation that speaks Chinese.